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02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

Narona

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.0805487836 / LONG 17.6283854895

On the area of today's country Vid there are the remains of the second biggest city of the ancient Dalmatia, which was at its peak between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century.

Its Roman name is Colonia Iulia Narona, which means that it had obtained the status of colony during the reign of Julijevci dynasty, probably during the reign of the emperor Augustus (27the century BC – 14th). However, this area was inhabited even before, in particular due to the commerce and the possibility to sail along the old riverbed of Neretva (anciently Naron), from the mouth inwards. Narona, i.e. the river, was mentioned for the first time as the trading point in the 4th century BC. Among the things with which they used to trade, the plant iris (perunika) is of great importance; it used to be used even by the Greeks to produce very precious perfumes. During the wars between the Romans and the Dalmatae, the Roman generals seized Narona and from the middle of the 2nd century BC they used to use it as a military camp and bridgehead towards the heartland. One of the most remarkable people is Publije Vatinije, who used to write from Narona and exchange letters with Cicero, since he was informed that his slave Dionysius, who had robbed his library, was seen properly in Narona.  

Unfortunately, nowadays there are very few information about the city. People are familiar with the town walls and the rectangular fortress which can be seen even today. They used to close the hillside overlooking the river, along which, as it seems, there didn't use to be the town walls. One of the town entrances was on the plateau on the highest part of today's Vid, in the vicinity of the parish church. Of particular relevance is the southern part of the town walls along which was preserved a so-called fortress of Ereš from the 19th century, inside which the local parson of that period, Don Bariša Ereš, built in a large number of Roman inscriptions and parts of architecture.

According to the inscription that was found in the town, it is known that in Narona there was a theatre, the thermae and the Temple of Liber.

Quite early the archaeologists took an interest in the remains of this important Roman town. There is an interesting story about a well-known Britain archaeologist, Arthur Evans, who, while travelling through Dalmatia in 1878, visited also Narona, where he purchased the heads of Empress Livia (the wife of the Emperor Augustus) and the God Hermes. The heads can be found today in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Those heads, as well as the head of the Emperor Vespasianus, were the focus of interest for many archaeologists who reasonably assumed that on the central forum/square in Narona along the river used to be the so-called Augusteum – a temple dedicated to a divine Emperor Augustus and to his heirs.

The confirmation arrived during the archaeological research between 1995 and 1996, when on the remains of the temple there were found 17 marble sculptures of the Roman emperors and the members of the imperial family, which is one of the most significant archaeological findings ever in Europe. The temple was built in the 1st century, maybe during the Dolabella's reign of Dalmatia, since his votive inscription was also found during the exploration. The temple was probably ruined during the 4th or the 5th century. In 2007 above the demolished temple there was open today's Archaeological Museum, which is the first Croatian museum in situ.

On the other side of the river, in the vicinity of the bridge, there is the St Vitus church. Today's church derives from the 17th century and it was built on the foundations of the Early Christian church from the 5th century. There was also built the baptistery with the octagonal pool for baptizing, which was decorated with the coloured mortar that imitates the marble. The walls of the church were decorated with the frescos. The church is of great importance as a place from which in the 5th century was spreading the Christianity towards the heartland of the province of Dalmatia. It might had been the residence of the local bishop who is known due to the written sources. A slightly smaller church was explored on the locality of Erešove bare, westwards from Vid. It was built in the 6th century on the place of the Roman villa rustica from the 2nd century.

Narona was also a significant military base during the Late Antique. However, the town was obviously destroyed during the Avar-Slavic break-in in the 7th century. One of the most recent findings that can be seen in the museum are the jewellery and money of Urbika, an unknown woman from Narona from the first years of the 7th century.

The Roman road used to approach Narona from the direction of the north, after the way towards Prud, where on the source of Norin, as it seems, there used to be the Neptune shrine. Along the road there used to be a big necropolis with its inscriptions that are carved in the hedge made of stone, which can be found along the today's road. Further towards Ljubuški, i.e. Humac, the road is much better preserved. Today the Roman road in the vicinity of Vid is submerged or under the asphalt of a newer road.